Friday, September 19, 2008

Problems w/ PICC

Just a little update for those that are interested in my life and PICC line.

So July 17, 2008 I received the PICC Line. The first couple of weeks were so extremely painful that I thought "Just pull the damn thing out. I'd rather deal with weekly tries of IV's that end unsucessfully."

Rob had to help me slowly put on my shirt. Rob had to bathe me. Rob had to brush my hair. Rob had to get me comfortable in the bed with pillows so I could rest though I never would fall asleep. I had to use my left hand for eating b/c I couldn't move my right hand up to my mouth. I would miss my mouth completely because my eye hand coordination was so off. It was hard to drive b/c I couldn't use my right hand.

Finally there was a break through. I pushed through the pain to put on my own clothes. I pushed through the pain to brush my own hair awkwardly and to even wash my own hair leaned over in the bathtub. I was more able to do things with my left hand and things started getting better. THEN ... the blisters happened. I went in for a dressing change ... which is painful in itself and upon removing the dressing, they saw the blisters. Eventually those blisters started leaking and I was beginning to think that the PICC would get pulled because they were not looking good at all. I had it changed 3 times in 7 days.

What is a dressing change you ask? Sounds simle enough, but it's a somewhat complicated process. I go into my nurse's office. She gathers supplies that are all sterile. She has to wear a mask to protect my body from her germs. She has to wear sterile gloves. She pulls off the old dressing and removes the gauze from my skin. She then begins to clean the area with an alcohol swab, betadine and other skin prep. This process hurts. Sometime during this she removes what is called the "stat lock" which keeps the PICC line from coming out during the week and puts on a new stat lock. She then replaces with new sterile gauze and new clear dressing. Then she changes the tip with a brand new tip. Voila. It's done.

Well a week or two ago when we discovered the blisters, we figured that I must be allergic to some part of the dressing change. So we left off some parts of the cleaning ..a nd moved the stat lock a bit to give the blisters a break. Then on the 3rd change of the week, we changed the dressing so where the gauze was partially left exposed so air could get under there and dry out the blisters. The blisters have stopped oozing so we'll see what they look like on wednesday when I go in for a new dressing change.

The pain you ask? It is much improved. However if I lift something too heavy or lift too much .. then I feel it later and a heating pad is required to lessen the pain. Last week was a tough week b/c I thought I was able to do more and I realized very quickly that lifting a baby was NOT a good idea. Tylenol and a heating pad were my friends that night along with benedryl to stop the itching. I felt one night that I was just gonna scratch my arm off. Since July 16th, I have gotten a total of four nights of decent sleep.

Those of you that know me in real life, know that this is very difficult for me as I am used to sleeping 9 or 10 hours a night. So this lack of sleep has left me severely depressed. I think the last two weeks I have cried every day. It is very difficult because I do not want to go back to the days where I cried every day. That was a tough time in my life and I don't wanna go back there. There is a difference between now and then. Now I am getting treatment. I know I will get better. I know I am mentally strong. Then, I had no diagnosis. I had no treatment plan and I was extremely weak.

The most difficult part of all of this is accepting my limitations and having others accept that I can not do the things that I used to do. The other part is that I want to be able to do things with my best friends, but I am torn. Do I want them to see me like this? Do they want to see me like this? Do I care if they see a tube hanging out of my arm? Do they even care (that they have to see it)? Or do they just want to see me no matter how I am feeling or how many meds they have to watch me take or how many tears I shed while they are there?

My blisters had completely healed and my arm was looking great. I went in for one of my treatments and a dressing change and we cleaned arm thoroughly. That night it began to give me problems. It itched, it hurt, and it was oozing. That night, I had Rob get that dressing off of my arm to replace it with a new dressing because I had ooze completely through what was done that morning. By that morning, it was nasty again. I rushed to the doctors and had the nurse look at it again. She changed the dressing again. That afternoon I had an appointment with another lady there and it was oozed out so we changed the dressing one more time. This was time number 4. I was up there every day that week getting my dressing changed and my husband even changed it a couple times. Leading to 9 dressing changes in a very short period of time.

Stay Tuned: the hospital visit.

P.S. My blisters look better now. There was no oozing this last week and the blisters had dried up. :)


Alice said...

Shame man, you have all my sympathies!!!! I've added you to my blog list... hope you don't mind!!

Jennifer said...

Thanks Alice. :) I'll get readers. :D Woo hooo.